Sweeping D.C. Anti-Corruption Reform Legislation to Become Law

Public Citizen's picture

Statement of Aquene Freechild, Campaign Co-Director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Note: The deadline for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to veto a critical pay-to-play reform bill – the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2017 (B22-0107) – has passed, allowing the bill to become law unless Congress intervenes within 30 days.

We are thrilled to see years of hard work by devoted citizens and advocates from all eight wards come to fruition.

Once this legislation is fully implemented, the District will have a more independent enforcement agency with a dedicated board that will bring expertise on money in politics to bear. Starting in late 2020, large government contractors will not be able to give money to the officeholders and candidates for mayor and the D.C. Council who have oversight over their contracts. This is a commonsense law already enacted in 15 states and dozens of localities.

We talked to and engaged with people of many ages, colors, abilities and beliefs across the District who agreed that cleaning up D.C. politics could make systemic change and help address D.C.’s appalling racial inequities. While corporate interests still will have professional lobbyists in the Wilson building, the people's lobbyists scored a major win for fairness and equality.

Just as no problem can be fully solved by a law, though, we do not expect this reform to fix all of the problems with money in D.C. politics. However, the District just took a giant step forward towards fairer and more accountable government, one oriented towards everyday people.

We applaud Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) for his tireless work and leadership on this bill and his overall efforts to get big money out of D.C. politics and put Washingtonians back at the heart of the process. We also congratulate Councilmembers Vincent Gray (D- Ward 7) and David Grosso (I-At-Large), who proposed key reforms in this bill.

This could not have happened without the determined work of Jews United for Justice, DC for Democracy, Campaign Legal Center, ONE DC, Empower DC, People For the American Way, the Ward 3 Democrats, DC NOW, Franciscan Action Network, the Brennan Center for Justice and DC for Reasonable Development.

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